NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A federal grand jury has indicted Tennessee State Senator Brian Kelsey and a Nashville social club owner for violating campaign finance laws to allegedly benefit Kelsey’s 2016 campaign for U.S. Congress.
Court documents show Kelsey, 43, and Joshua Smith, 44, funneled “soft money” from Kelsey’s Tennessee State Senate Campaign to his federal campaign committee. Illegal contributions were also made to his federal campaign by national political organizations through advertisements, causing false reports of contributions and expenditures to be filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), according to the Office of the U.S. Attorney.
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According to the indictment, Kelsey, Smith, and others hid that $91,000 was moved to a national political organization to fund advertisements urging voters to support Kelsey in the 2016 primary election. It also states the conspirators caused the political organization to make a total of $80,000 worth of contributions to Kelsey’s federal campaign committee.
Kelsey and Smith are charged with conspiracy to defraud the FEC, and illegally transfer “soft money.” Kelsey is also charged with accepting and making excessive contributions to a federal campaign. Their initial court appearances are scheduled for November 5. If convicted, they face a maximum punishment of five years in prison for each count.
The FBI is continuing to investigate.
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This is a developing story. WKRN News 2 will continue to update this article as new information becomes available.